Ahmed smashes 76no in Pakistan 7-wicket T20 win
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Sarfraz Ahmed smashed an unbeaten 76 off 64 balls in his debut Twenty20 and led Pakistan to a comprehensive seven-wicket victory against New Zealand on Thursday.
Ahmed, who scored three centuries and three half centuries in his last seven tests, hit eight fours and two sixes in a brilliant knock, as Pakistan raced to 140-3 in 19.1 overs and went 1-0 up in the two-match series.
After being put in to bat, New Zealand posted 135-7, recovering from losing three quick wickets due to Corey Anderson’s career-best 48 off 37 balls.
In his new role as opener, Ahmed took the game away from New Zealand inside the first five overs by adding 44 runs with Awais Zia (20), as the bowlers found it hard with the wet ball because of heavy dew.
New Zealand hit back briefly with the run outs of Zia and Mohammad Hafeez, and Haris Sohail was smartly snapped up by Nathan McCullum at short midwicket, but then Umar Akmal added a quickfire 43 with Ahmed to clinch the result.
Akmal, who was relieved of his wicketkeeping duties in the shorter format with the inclusion of Ahmed, made a rapid 27 off 14 balls, and finished the match in style by hitting medium-pacer James Neesham over his head for a six.
Earlier, with New Zealand sent in to bat, Anderson hit four sixes and a four after Pakistan fast bowlers reduced the Kiwis to 15-3 inside the first three overs.
Captain Kane Williamson was out for his first duck in 20 T20s, when Anwar Ali trapped him leg before wicket off the first ball. Anton Devcich followed him in the next over in similar fashion off Sohail Tanvir, 2-24.
Ross Taylor was beaten by fast bowler Mohammad Irfan’s sharpish short-pitched delivery, and lobbed an easy catch to Akmal at point.
Anderson put the innings back on track by adding 46 runs with Martin Guptill (32), and 51 off 35 balls with Luke Ronchi (33).
Anderson hit fast bowler Anwar Ali for two flat sixes over midwicket in one over before he tried to complete his maiden half century with another big hit off left-arm spinner Raza Hasan and was well caught on the edge of the midwicket fence by Saad Nasim.
Pakistan hit back well after Anderson departed in the 16th over, and the total at 112, allowing New Zealand only 22 runs in the last four overs.
Ronchi was out in the last over when Tanvir knocked over his off stump.
The second match will be at the same venue on Friday, followed by five one-day internationals from Monday.